ACE2 of the heart: From angiotensin I to angiotensin (1-7)

Cardiovasc Res. 2007 Feb 1;73(3):463-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cardiores.2006.09.006. Epub 2006 Sep 19.


Angiotensin II (Ang II), a bioactive peptide of the renin-angiotensin system (RAAS), plays an important role in the development of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Pharmacological inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), the Ang II forming enzyme, or specific blockade of Ang II binding to angiotensin type 1 receptor (AT1R) through which it exerts its deleterious effects, were shown to provide some protection against progression of CVD. The ACE-Ang II-AT1R axis has been challenged over the last few years with RAAS components able to counterbalance the effects of the main axis. The ACE homologue ACE2 efficiently hydrolyses Ang II to form Ang (1-7), a peptide that exerts actions opposite to those of Ang II. In contrast to the Ang II axis, the role of the ACE2-Ang (1-7) axis in cardiac function is largely obscure. Ang (1-7) is present in the viable myocardium, and its formation depends on Ang II as a substrate. The expression of this peptide is associated with cardiac remodeling: it is lost in the infarcted area and significantly increased in the border area. Low doses of Ang (1-7) improve cardiac output and antagonize Ang II-induced vasoconstriction. The type of Ang (1-7) biological activity is tissue specific and dose dependent. These findings point to a possible protective role for Ang (1-7) in abating the Ang II-induced actions. The elevated expression of Ang (1-7) in failing heart tissue paralleled the expression of its forming enzyme, ACE2. Several observations and experimental evidence suggest a beneficial role for ACE2 in cardiovascular function. Elevated ACE2 expression at the initial stage of several pathologies which decline with progression of disease might indicate a protective role for ACE2. Genetic manipulation of ACE2 expression, either targeted disruption or overexpression, point to the possible significance of this enzyme in cardiac function. Based on the above, a therapeutic approach that will amplify the ACE2-Ang (1-7) axis could provide further protection against the development of CVD. It turns out that the merits of currently used drugs--ACE inhibitors, AT1R blockers and mineralocorticoid receptor blockers (MRB) - lay beyond their direct effects on suppression of the ACE-Ang II-AT1R axis as they also increase cardiac ACE2 and Ang (1-7) significantly.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin I / metabolism*
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Disease Progression
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy
  • Heart Failure / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Myocardium / metabolism*
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism*
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A / metabolism*
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1 / drug effects
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1 / metabolism
  • Ventricular Remodeling


  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Receptor, Angiotensin, Type 1
  • Angiotensin I
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A
  • ACE2 protein, human
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2
  • angiotensin I (1-7)